The Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Freelance Business Consultant
Hey, I'm Sabrina Whittaker - a writer and business analyst dedicated to the advancement of marginalized groups in the United States.
It is my mission to help businesses plan and execute profitable campaigns, so they are empowered to change the world through art, culture, and social engagement.
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In this article, we’ll provide an all-encompassing review of how to hire a freelance consultant for your business; this includes explaining why WHO you hire matters, HOW to choose the right consultant, and four suggestions for anyone new to hiring freelance consultants. This article exists for you if you are a Black woman or someone who sees their humanity and relates to their needs.
There are many types of consultants, so as you may have gathered from the article’s title, we’re going to focus on business consultants specifically. In the following paragraphs, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to get started with a freelance business consultant. We welcome and encourage you to revisit this article as necessary.
Here's what we'll cover:
- What is a Freelance Business Consultant?
- The Business Case for Hiring a Freelance Business Consultant
- Which Economic Conditions Incentivize Starting a Business?
- What Does a Business Consultant Do?
- Tips and Reminders for Hiring a Business Consultant
- Explore Freelance Business Consulting Services
- How Can You Get Started Today?
If you're a business owner or aspiring entrepreneur, let's break the ice with a fun game. How good are your sales skills? Take this four-question quiz to test your knowledge, then join us in a free 15-minute consultation to get the answers.
What is a Freelance Business Consultant?
- A business consultant is an expert in business analysis who provides professional advice, services, or research to help you achieve your goals.
- A freelance business consultant is a professional who provides the benefits mentioned above as part of consulting services on a contractual basis.
The consultant may offer a one-time recommendation or ongoing support for your business. So, depending on your needs, you might hire a freelance business consultant to help with one project or employ them continuously to help with specific tasks and projects within your organization. When carefully selected, a freelance business consultant is an incredible asset capable of designing profitable processes, coordinating partnerships, and developing otherwise beneficial strategies.
Unfortunately, many small businesses are hesitant to hire outside help. Some fear the cost, while others feel like they have everything under control. However, black women are starting businesses faster than any other demographic in the country, and the reality is that they need help. As a small business owner, it’s only a matter of time before you encounter problems that you can’t resolve on your own. This guide will help you navigate the process of hiring a freelance business consultant for your unique situation.
In general, a freelance business consultant can help with:
- Client Acquisition – How do I get new clients?
- Marketing and Sales – How do I sell more effectively?
- Business Strategy and Planning – What should my business goals be?
- Operations and Systems – How do I make sure my team is productive?
Most freelancers work remotely, meaning they don’t have an office in your city or state. Instead, they use technology to connect with clients via email, video, and phone chats. Their projects are typically managed online through project management software like Asana, Trello, or Jira. Your consultant may offer all or some of the above services, so consider your needs and the consultant’s expertise before enlisting outside help.
The following chart depicts how an online business owner might split their focus and highlights tasks and concerns associated with each area of focus.
The Business Case for Hiring a Freelance Business Consultant
In 2020, “Black women represent[ed] 42% of new women-owned businesses—three times their share of the female population—and 36% of all Black-owned employer businesses.” – Forbes, Black Women Were Among The Fastest-Growing Entrepreneurs—Then Covid Arrived
Now, despite a staggering 17% of Black women in the process of starting or running new businesses (compared to 10% of white women and 15% of white men), only 3% of Black women run mature businesses. To be sure, a mature business is one with stable systems and predictable growth.
So, it’s clear that black women are taking more advantage of economic opportunities today than ever before. But, with most of the population floundering, stuck in a moment of perpetual drowning, it can only mean one thing – these women must adjust their strategy or join the 45% of businesses that fail within their first five years.
Which Economic Conditions Incentivize Starting a Business?
“Black women are starting businesses faster than any other demographic in the country.” – Sabrina Whittaker
The growth of black-owned businesses is born from increased internet access, technological advancements, and economic conditions that make starting a business feasible. To provide context, here are some key economic factors that have incentivized black women to open up shop:
- Economic Inequality:
Economic inequality has hit Black women especially hard over the last few decades. Today, they earn 63 cents per dollar earned by White men, hold fewer C-suite positions at work, and face microaggressions through challenged authority, non-responsiveness, and interruptions more frequently than other women in the United States.
As a result, many Black women choose self-employment to achieve financial independence and stability. Of course, economic downturns can be difficult for individuals and companies alike. Still, these downturns can also lead to entrepreneurship as people look for ways to make money or find jobs.
The U.S. economy has seen some significant changes over the last few decades, and as the economy has changed, so have the reasons people start businesses. So, successful business owners must either understand the economic landscape or regularly consult with someone that does.
The internet makes it easy for anyone to start a business online — even if you don’t have much money or experience. Those looking for work outside of traditional corporate environments often turn to entrepreneurship to supplement their incomes without leaving their homes or offices behind entirely. It’s not uncommon for people to have a side hustle in addition to a full-time position.
- Rising Inflation:
Inflation describes a scenario where there's more money in circulation than needed to meet demand or than available for purchase by consumers. The benefit of some inflation is that it can spur entrepreneurship.
For example, someone may become an entrepreneur because they expect to fetch a high price, and it seems like easy money. On the other end of the spectrum, people are less willing to spend because purchasing goods and services is challenging for those with limited incomes.
Sometimes, this inspires people to create businesses where they can sell those goods and services directly to consumers at lower prices than they would otherwise pay in retail stores or online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy. However, this is a risky strategy for new businesses because they can hardly ever afford to compete on price.
If you’re looking to start a business, you may be wondering whether now is the right time. The short answer is yes, but it depends on what type of business you want to start. For example, the early days of the pandemic may be over, but many of your potential customers still feel its effects. In this case, it’s a good idea to consider running your business remotely or updating your company’s safety practices to ease health concerns.
So, starting a business may seem risky, especially if you’ve recently started your career or don’t have much experience managing finances or running a business. However, there are also economic factors that make starting a business more appealing now than ever before:
- Low-Interest Rates:
Interest rates remain at a historic low, which means it’s more affordable than ever to take out loans for equipment or start-up costs.
Some cities and states offer incentives for businesses that hire locals or create local jobs. For example, some areas provide tax breaks for new companies that employ and pay residents above minimum wage requirements.
- Tax Breaks:
You can deduct up to $1 million in start-up costs from your taxes over five years if you incorporate as an S corporation or LLC (rather than as a sole proprietor).
If you need help starting or growing your business, a freelance business consultant can help by developing solutions tailored to your situation.
What Does a Business Consultant Do?
Now that we understand why business consultants are necessary, let’s explore what they do in-depth, so you know what business consulting looks like in practice, how much it costs, and how to find the right person for the job.
Business consultants are experts who help people solve problems, improve performance, and grow their businesses. You may be surprised to learn that a business consultant doesn’t use a set methodology or process for solving problems and instead has extensive knowledge of many different industries, functions, and business models.
They work with companies to identify their most significant challenges, then help those companies develop plans to overcome specific issues. Sometimes, a freelance business consultant temporarily joins your team to oversee changes. The scope of services offered by business consultants varies widely, but most include one or more of these categories:
Marketing and Sales
Tips and Reminders for Hiring a Business Consultant
Is this the right consultant for me?
A business consultant can help you with everything from developing your marketing strategy to helping you figure out how to grow your business. Hiring a freelance business consultant is a good idea if you’re unsure where to start or don’t have the time to do all the research. They can help with many aspects of your business, but one thing that many companies don’t know is how to hire one. So, here are our best tips for hiring a freelance business consultant:
- You should have a clear understanding of what you want from your consultant and what they can offer.
- Ask questions about their experience, reputation, and approach.
- Be clear on what you want done, how long it will take, and how much it will cost before agreeing on terms with your consultant.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to solve problems or make decisions — this can lead to costly mistakes!
Although it might sound obvious, one of the first things to consider when hiring a consultant is how much time they will spend with you and what they expect from that time together. A good consultant should be able to give you their opinion in a short time — usually no more than two hours per week over the course of several weeks or months — so they can focus on solving problems rather than explaining them repeatedly.
While it’s tempting to wait until everything is perfect before bringing in an expert, this may do more harm than good for your business since there are always opportunities for improvement. There’s no better time than now — so don’t wait! Business consulting is a broad field and choosing the type of business consultant that best fit for your needs can be challenging. We recommend looking for someone with a background as a business analyst or project manager in your industry or a related discipline. Ideally, this person has an attitude you consider pleasant and a mission statement you support.
Explore Freelance Business Consultant Services
Sabrina Whittaker, agency owner and freelance business consultant at Orchids Octopi LLC, offers content writing, consulting, and project management services in the following areas. We encourage you to click "Learn More" under any of the services you'd like to explore in-depth.
Clicking into any of the pages below will take you to a new page that explains our agency's processes and pricing, so that you're more confident shopping. Please note that each page is tailored to a single service category, so you should explore all three to complete your understanding of services offered by freelance business consultants.
New Business Development
Does starting a business feel terrifying and risky? This is your opportunity to learn how to start the business of your dreams or get back to basics with services designed to drive conversions and sales.
Content Writing and Editing
In today's world it's essential you develop an online presence for your business, and that starts with content. So, if you don't have time to create or edit content for your business, we can help.
Real Community Building
In the Black community there exists the notion of a linked fate where we learn to value community above ourselves as an act of self-preservation. Instead of pouring until you're empty, learn to grow together.
How Can You Get Started Today?
Before you can begin setting and executing goals with the help of a freelance business consultant, you'll first need to find them. There are lots of places to find a consultant including job boards like Fiverr and UpWork or social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Additionally, you may explore services offered by our creative agency, Orchids Octopi LLC, using any of the buttons on this page.
Most consultants find clients through word of mouth, so it's not a bad idea to ask your friends if they know of a consultant that helps businesses like yours, in terms of size, industry, and objective. Once you find someone that seems to fit your needs, another avenue you can and absolutely should consider is reading publications written by and about the consultant you're considering.
Completing this research ahead of making contact will help you understand their perspective, background, and experience, and ultimately, whether or not they're passionate about helping others, or just in it for the money. To provide examples of what we mean, we've linked our blog below. You'll find Sabrina writes and releases content under categories labeled: Business Analysis, Digital Marketing, Consumer Behavior, Culture Studies, and Afrofuturism.
Many of the blogs analyze African American musical heritage to give context to current events. The purpose of the content is to inform, inspire, and entertain those interested in the development of women and minority ethnic groups in the United States. The three latest blogs are linked below for your edification.
What to Expect Before and After Onboarding
Before Initial Meeting
Congratulations! At this point, you've found a consultant you're ready to move forward with and they're probably just as excited as you. Right now, the freelance business consultant is reviewing the opportunity to analyze the project scope and draft an initial proposal for your review. They'll also be estimating your budget needs according to any information they've collected via forms you've completed. This step is complete when you accept a proposal and schedule your first meeting.
During your first meeting you'll review the proposal with your business consultant. You should feel comfortable asking questions and concerns relevant to your business. This is your chance to clarify your needs and modify the proposal to fit your situation. This step is complete once the two of you agree on a set of terms and end the call.
Alternatively, if you first met your consultant in person or during a free consultation, your proposal will be sent to you AFTER your first meeting so a second call may be necessary to confirm the details of your proposal. If you agree with what's been proposed, you're ready for the next step.
After the First Meeting
After your first or second meeting, the consultant will offer you a formal contract. While some agencies have you sign yearly contracts, we offer a three-month agreement as standard because businesses tend to report quarterly, meaning it's the shortest commitment available to those seeking ambitious results.
The exception to this format is hourly consulting, which is scheduled on-demand according to availability. You'll know this is the case because instead of being offered a contract, your consultant will take payment upfront to discuss a pressing business need. After your consultation, you're provided with a summary of notes and recommendations according to what was discussed.
NOTE: Consultants commonly use calendar booking systems to accept appointments; our agency uses Acuity Scheduling, for example. This is a great option for business owners looking to write a business plan or have their content and processes audited, but not looking to start a new project or campaign.
The onboarding process differs according to who you're working with, but you can expect to receive a welcome email after signing an agreement. It'll likely contain a pre-project questionnaire and provide instructions for booking your first official consultation.
Your business consultant will be looking to create a baseline from which to measure progress, so expect to provide information about your revenue, overhead costs, customer acquisition costs, and profit and loss statements.
One of the most important things that business analysts do is analyze data. They use this data to create reports and recommendations for you, so during the planning stage you'll work with your freelance business consultant to determine the highest-priority issues in your organization, set project goals, and draft an initial action plan to fix any problems that have been identified.
This is also the time to discuss ad budgets and other costs associated with doing business. Remember, your consultant can provide detailed information about how well your organization is performing overall and where it needs improvement.
Nobody really knows how the sausage gets made, but execution involves research and analysis followed by the assignment of a high-level strategic approach. Afterwards, timelines and deliverables are defined, and you're presented with a prescribed action plan.
Towards the end of the planning and approval process, your business consultant will share their final plan and timeline with you. They'll seek your feedback and incorporate appropriate changes before scheduling future meetings and establishing a report cadence.
Look at you! You've done the hard part.
You've hired a freelance business consultant and committed to better business habits. We're proud of you and here to support you however we're able. Good luck on your journey.
You Must Take Action Sooner, Rather Than Later
Note from the Editor:
I'd be doing you a disservice if I didn't caution you against failing to take action after receiving an action plan from a business consultant. It's up to you whether or not your business succeeds because a consultant cannot do the work for you. Your investment would be wasted were you to sit on a business consultant's recommendation because a significant chunk of their job is to provide timely and relevant information about your business.
When it comes to hiring consultants, the more informed you are the better the chances that you’ll successfully find and work with the best consultant for your needs. Indeed, as we’ve stated throughout this article, there are many potential benefits of working with a business consultant. Now that you have all the facts, it’s time for you to make an informed decision.
So, if you’ve made it this far, I would like to conclude by asking that you do a favor for me: share this article
I've put significant time and effort into making sure this article is as comprehensive as possible, so I want it to be read by as many people as possible. In order for that to happen, I need your help! If you know a Black woman who might benefit from the information that this article contains, please send it her way!
I'm dedicated to the advancement of women and minority ethnic groups in the United States, and it is the mission of my creative agency, Orchids Octopi LLC, to help businesses plan and execute profitable campaigns so they are empowered to change the world through art, culture, and social engagement.